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The Traitor's Niche

  • Author: Ismail Kadare

  • Translator: John Hodgson

  • UK publisher: Vintage - Harvill Secker

  • Original language: Albanian

Gabriel Gbadamosi, EBRD Literature Prize judge: “The story behind a succession of severed heads that are put public display in a central square of the Ottoman Empire.  The Traitor's Niche is an early 1978 Ismail Kadare novel, finally available in an austerely beautiful – and timely - translation by his frequent English translator John Hodgson.”

The author

Ismail Kadare is Albania’s best-known novelist and poet. Translations of his novels have appeared in more than forty countries. He was awarded the inaugural Man Booker International Prize in 2005, and the Jerusalem Prize in 2015. The Traitor’s Niche is one of Kadare’s early titles, originally published in 1978 when Albania was one of the poorest countries in Europe, cut off from the rest of the world and governed by a strict form of ultra-communism. Set in the early nineteenth century, when the Ottomans ruled Albania, this is a story of resistance. Unsurprisingly, it is considered to be one of Kadare's darkest books – it speaks to both Albania's complex cultural history as well as the period of communist tyranny that Kadare experienced himself.

The translator

John Hodgson was born in England in 1951 and studied English at Cambridge and Newcastle. He has taught at the universities of Prishtina and Tirana and is the translator of Ismail Kadare's Three-Arched Bridge. He has written about Albania, Kosova, the British Balkan traveller Edith Durham, and the novelist John Cowper Powys. He now works as an Albanian-English translator and interpreter.

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